Kilted Root Vegetable and Bacon Soup with Lentils and Barley

Scotland! A nation where the men are hard and the women are harder. Where the national dress for men is literally a dress, but are immune from being mocked to their face, owing to the large knife worn in their sock below their pleated tartan skirt. No, this is not a nation of hairy netballers, but a country of warriors, of kings and queens vying for power and control of the British Isles. Unfortunately for them, many of these kings and queens lost their heads for their effort. 

Waring and feuding between clans when not fighting the English, Danish or Norwegians built up an appetite and this purple heather covered nation was teaming with game and surrounded by an abundance of fresh seafood. Unfortunately for the commoners, these were mostly reserved for the aristocracy. The rest of the nation made do with what they could grow, and in a cold drizzly climate, the staples were generally root vegetables, oats and barley with the occasional hint of meat for flavouring and accompanied with plenty of dairy. The Scots were known for their thrift and would make the most of what they had, to the point that it seems some Scottish cuisine was founded on a wager. 

“Hey Angus, I got a sheep’s gut and stuffed it with offal, I bet you wo’nee eat it!”

My Scottish Grandparents always had a pot of soup on the stove filled with the simplest ingredients, and as summer has come to a close and the cooler months are on their way, I decided to simmer up a batch of my Nanny’s Kilted Root Vegetable and Bacon soup with Lentils and Barley.


500g of bacon bones

1 large onion, finely diced

3 large carrots, 1cm cubed

1 large swede, 1cm cubed

1 large turnip, 1cm cubed

1 large parsnip, 1cm cubed

½ bunch celery, finely diced

1 ½ cups of soup lentils, containing barley and split peas 

2 tbsp butter, for frying

2 litres of chicken stock

2 litres water

3 garlic cloves, minced

Pouring cream to serve, optional


  1. Soak the lentil, split pea and barley mix and skim the surface ton remove any husks or foreign particles. Skim and strain a few times until the water runs mostly clear. In a medium sized pot bring to boil with a ratio of 1 part soup mix to 3 parts water and then reduce to simmer. Skim the foam that forms regularly. When tender, strain, rinse and set aside.
  2. Sweat the onions and garlic in a large stock pot over a medium heat until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and sauté. Finally add the remaining vegetables and increase heat to high, stirring constantly to mix and sweat all the root vegies to release the flavours. 
  3. Add 2 litres of boiling water to cover and submerge the bacon bones. Bring to boil for 60 min partially covered then reduce to low simmer. After 2 hours, remove the bacon bones and separate the meat from the bone, discarding the bones. Finely dice the meat and return to the pot, stirring and topping with more hot water and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  4. Ladle into a soup bowl and serve with crusty bread and an optional splash of pouring cream.